Voyage to California (41) – John Jackson Lewis – January to March, 1851

(1) John Jackson Lewis, (2) Edith May (Lewis) Rider, (3) Marian Faith (Rider) Irwin, (4) Marian Dunlap (Irwin) Guion, (5) Judith Anne Guion.

The following are transcriptions of John Jackson Lewis’s diary and journal of his voyage to California in 1851. He was travelling  from New York to visit his older brother William in San Jose.

Following is the rest of a letter dated San Jose, March 30, 1851.

We have potatoes, peas, turnips, radishes, cabbage, lettuce, onions and tomatoes, the last four of my own sewing, all up, and more planted.  I got my seeds through, I think, without their taking any injury from saltwater or tropical weather.  The onion, tomato, and cabbage seeds at any rate have proved their generative powers. xxxxxxx

After the accounts received at home of cash being required for all moneyed transactions, I have been surprised to find money one of the scarcest articles in the country.  People have to trust and take pay in trade, much more than in Chester County.  I have been also surprised to find that in this Valley of San Jose, which has been represented to raise such enormous crops of potatoes, the very few that we get to eat cost 10 cents per pound.  Other vegetables we don’t get at all.  I suppose the fact is, the demand for them exceeded the supply, and they have all been cleared out.  The potatoes used here now are brought from San Francisco, and are brought there I suppose from the Sandwich Islands.  Flour and cornmeal cost 10 cents a pound at the stores in the Pueblo, rice 20, sperm candles 10 cents each.  Beef costs 12 ½ cents per pound.  A full-grown hog is worth here from 75 dollars to 100 dollars, nearly as much as a pair of oxen.  These are worth from 125 to 250 dollars.  Birds are very numerous here: most numerous perhaps are the wild geese.  These settle down on the plains in flocks which might be counted by acres.  A large flock settled down for several evenings, within a mile or two of our house.  I twice attempted to steal upon them in the night, but did not succeed in finding them.  I also tried once about daylight, and another time on horseback, but they all proved “wild goose chases”.  I got one or two shots at them, but at too great a distance to kill any. xxxxxx

Our fare consists of bread, molasses, fresh beef, tea and coffee, with occasional variations of rice, potatoes, dried apples, boiled pork, and pickles.  Potatoes and rice however our rarities.  I hope to see vegetables of our own raising on the table before many months have passed away.

Tomorrow, more of the story of Lad and Marian during and following World War II.

On Monday, I will be posting a week of letters written in 1943.

Judy Guion

 

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Voyage to California (40) – John Jackson Lewis – January to March, 1851

(1) John Jackson Lewis, (2) Edith May (Lewis) Rider, (3) Marian Faith (Rider) Irwin, (4) Marian Dunlap (Irwin) Guion, (5) Judith Anne Guion.

The following are transcriptions of John Jackson Lewis’s diary and journal of his voyage to California in 1851. He was travelling  from New York to visit his older brother William in San Jose.

Excerpts from a letter dated San José, March 30, 1851

The day before yesterday I saw a coyota, the first live one that I have seen.  The Texan tells me that they are precisely the same as the prairie wolf of our Western States; so as you have a description of them in Godman’s Natural History, I need not attempt it.  At any rate this one was too far off for me to give a very accurate description of him.  The creek which passes between here and the Pueblo, I suppose derives its name from this animal.  The term “creek”, when applied to this stream, implies something very different from what we are accustomed to see at home.  The stream of water at present, is somewhere near the size of that at the bottom of our meadow in New Garden, but the bed of the stream is another affair.  I have seen none of it as yet, except so far as I could see up and down from the place where we cross it in going to or from town, that I think I can safely say that it is from 50 to 250 yards wide, and from 10 to 25 or 30 feet deep in different parts of it; a deep gulch dug out of the plain, and the dirt all gone somewhere, forming a channel which when full, would contain a fully as much water as the Christiana Creek at Wilmington.  This channel was full last “rainy season”, this one there has not been rain enough to raise the streams.  From the depth of the channel, the stream is useless for the purpose of irrigation, unless pumps are resorted to.  At the time I came here, tho’ nominally the rainy season, the ground was hard and dry, cracking in some places, and the grass beginning to die.  Since that time we have had several fine showers, and the prospect is much more encouraging.  I suppose from what I have heard that more rain has fallen since my arrival, then in all the former part of the winter.  Wasn’t it a lucky thing for the Californians that I came?  When it rains here in the Valley, it frequently snows on the mountains.  We can see considerable bodies of snow to-day cresting the mountains on either side of us.  The altitude of these mountains is not sufficient to retain the snow for any considerable length of time; – it generally vanishes in a day or two.  We have heavy frosts nearly every morning, and the air is rather keen.  After the sun gets up a short distance, it becomes warm and pleasant, and this continues until the latter part of the day, when the wind rises, and by evening becomes quite disagreeably cool. This is the usual state of the weather, but on days immediately preceding a rain it is frequently calm all day.  I suppose this may be accounted for in this way.  The regular winds are from the North West; the winds which produce rain are from the opposite direction.  The countercurrents produce an equilibrium, which lasts sometimes a day or two before the South East finally prevails.  Take the weather altogether it is much more pleasant than in the same month at home.  The ground don’t freeze; the grass grows, the flowers bloom on injured.

I will post the rest of this section next Saturday.

Tomorrow, the second half of Army Life, Marriage and the Army, about Lad and Marian Guion’s travels shortly after they were married and before Lad is shipped overseas.

On Monday, I’ll begin posting more of “The Beginning”, Reminiscences of Alfred D Guion, the story of his early life, marriage, the birth of the children and the early years living in Trumbull, Connecticut.

Judy Guion

Voyage to California (39) – John Jackson Lewis – January to March, 1851

(1) John Jackson Lewis, (2) Edith May (Lewis) Rider, (3) Marian Faith (Rider) Irwin, (4) Marian Dunlap (Irwin) Guion, (5) Judith Anne Guion.

The following are transcriptions of John Jackson Lewis’s diary and journal of his voyage to California in 1851. He was travelling  from New York to visit his older brother William in San Jose.

Excerpt from a letter written by John Jackson Lewis to family back in the states written on March 12th.

Extracts from a letter dated San Jose March 12, 1851

March 13 – The preceding pages, tho’ all under the same date, have been written in part to-day.  My time for writing has as yet been rather limited, and in consequence I have not been as minute as I might otherwise have been.  We have now a daily mail between this place and San Francisco, but it closes as 8 o’clock in the evening, so that to be in time for the steamer of the 15th, I must put this in the office this evening.  Of my prospects here I cannot say much at present, no arrangement having been entered into with Wm.  and Sherman.  It is impossible to foresee what the effect of the dry weather on farming will be.  If water can be raised from wells without too heavy an expense, the dry season may be in our favor.  Many who would otherwise be in the business do not possess sufficient capital to bear the increased expense, and the expectation of many is that vegetables will be scarce and dear next fall.  Indeed it is reported that potatoes have risen in value since I left San Francisco.  The future, however, will reveal all, so we must do the best we can, and patiently await the results.  We have bargained for the sale of 4 pounds of my onion seed at $16 per. lb.  It is not yet delivered, or the money in my possession, but I hope it will come along one of these days.  At the stores in San Francisco they were asking $20 per.lb., from $4 to $6 for cabbage, and $4  for turnips, but I did not then know how much would be wanted here, and did not feel at liberty to sell any of the onion seed.  I assisted to do one small job of surveying the morning after my arrival, and have done a little work at the garden, but I do not expect to go to work in earnest until next week.  I want some time to get my dirty clothes washed, and arrangements made for living at the ranche as comfortably as circumstances will permit. x x x I must now stop writing for this time, to go and plant some seeds in a hot bed.  So with love to my relatives and friends, and peace and good-will to mankind in general, I remain thy affectionate brother, John J.  Lewis

Next Saturday, excerpts from a letter written March 30, 1951, from John Jackson Lewis to family and friends back in the states.

Tomorrow, more on My Ancestor, my Dad, Alfred Peabody Guion and his life with his new wife, Marian, during World War II.

Next week, I will be posting letters written in 1944. Grandpa is holding down the fort in the Old Homestead in Trumbull while his five sons see the world, courtesy of Uncle Sam.

Judy Guion

Army Life – Dear Dad – Lad arrives in L.A. – September 22, 1943

     Lad and Marian – Pomona, CA

Now Grandpa knows that Lad arrived safely back in California. In Lad’s typical, analytical style, he tells the whole story.

September 22, 1943

South Pasadena, California

Dear Dad:

I arrived in LA at 4:10 A.M. and, so help me, Marian was there to meet me. In fact, I’m writing this at her house and this is her pen and ink. Here is the story. Bridgeport to New York – O.K.  –  left Grand Central at 6:30 P.M. and after a pretty good rest arrived in Chicago at noon. I had till 6:30 for the train to LA so I went to the Santa Fe-Harvey office. Got a job in a few minutes on a train leaving on Tuesday at 7 A.M.. So I went back to the Y and slept all afternoon and evening.

About 10 P.M. I got up, wrote a letter to Marian, had something to eat and returned to bed. Got up at 5 AM and went to the station. I was 4th cook and did nothing but dishes from 10:30 Tuesday morning until 11 P.M. Thursday. Boy, I don’t think I ever worked so hard. It was terrific – but, at least I wasn’t bored by the trip and I had very good meals and an upper. Slept from about 12 or one o’clock till 5:30 each night. We were five hours late arriving in LA, but she was there, with a smile, as usual, and my spirits rose perceptively. She had made arrangements for me to stay at the USO dorm, so I had something to eat and went to bed. I slept from about 6 A.M. till after 4 P.M..

I had a key, which Marian had given me for her house, so I went there for a shower and then reported back to camp, got my pass, and took up where I had left off 16 days earlier. As I look back, those five days at home were some of the most enjoyable days I’ve ever spent, but they went far too fast. I went to the rationing board here and they gave me the ration points, but said that in the future to go to the local board at home. So take a mental note of that. It is a new O.P.A. regulation.

For two days now we have had typical Southern California September weather, hotter than hell. The air so hot, that desks and chairs or anything else is almost uncomfortably hot to touch. It was 116° today, and this is supposed to last until the middle of October. However, I really don’t mind it at all. Marian doesn’t like it too well. It has cooled off a little now, and we’re going to an open-air theater tonight to see “The More the Merrier”.

Give my love to Aunt Betty and anyone else and I’m expecting to take your suggestion and write to Grandma.

Lad

Tomorrow and Wednesday, we’ll read a long letter from Grandpa to his four sons in their various locations, filled with news about each of them. Thursday a quick note from Lad and a longer letter on Friday.  

Judy Guion

My Ancestors (33e) – Alfred Peabody Guion – The Wedding

(1) Alfred Peabody Guion; (2) Judith Anne Guion.

Lad and Marian

Excerpt from a letter Lad wrote to Grandpa, dated September 22, 1943:

“Arrived in L.A. at 4:10 A.M. and, so help me, Marion was there to meet me.”

Excerpt from letter Lad wrote to Grandpa at the end of September, 1943:

“Since I arrived things have progressed rapidly –.  I have had a complete reversal of more or less personal ideas, and Marian has consented to be my wife.  I never thought I was capable of such strong emotions, but they are certainly present.  When I have had a chance to calm down and think more clearly, I’ll right again and give you more in detail.  Lots of love, Lad

P.S. I personally think that she can top Jean without a great deal of trouble.”

Excerpt from letter dated October 6, 1943, from Lad to Grandpa:

“Some time having elapsed since I last wrote you, I think I can say that, although I’m still way up in the clouds, I at last can think logically.

During my time on furlough I realized that I missed Marian quite a good deal, as I think I told you, but the feeling got stronger and stronger as I came closer to L.A., and not a thing could have pleased me more than having Marian, as she did, meet me.  I realized then that I really loved her, and I also, as I think I told you, realized that she not only liked me very well, but very definitely loved me.  We spent quite a good deal of time discussing all angles of marriage, realizing that this was a rather poor time to undertake anything so serious, and permanent, and although she wanted me to ask her, she didn’t press her point at all.  We had both agreed, many months before, in an argument with another couple, that it was pretty foolish to marry during the present war, but here I am sticking my neck out, or rather jeopardizing her life (possibly) by asking her to marry me.  Arrangements have been made, as far as is possible for a soldier, to be married at her home near San Francisco on November 14th…….

There are 2 things I regret, however, about the proceedings.  (1) You have never met Marian, and don’t know her, so you’ll have to rely on my judgment to bring you a good daughter-in-law, and (2) her parents have never met me so therefore they will have to rely on her to pick out a worthwhile husband and son-in-law.  I think I’m getting the better bargain, and she thinks she is, so we’re completely happy.  Oh!  Dad – she really is wonderful.  I wish you could know her now, instead of having to wait….”

Excerpt from a letter Lad wrote to Grandpa on October 25, 1943:

“Now to answer a few questions —

It will be an afternoon wedding in “The Little Chapel of the Flowers” in Berkeley and I definitely will wear my uniform.  Uncle Sam is still around…..

Marian is 5’5” in her bare tootsies and is far from slim.  In fact, on the plump side, and (just a moment while I asked her) she hasn’t voted for Roosevelt all her life, and she says she very definitely likes fathers-in-law with hay fever….

If you want to know more right away you’d better ask some more questions.  One thing, however, she doesn’t like turnips, and neither do I.”

“P.S. Hello Dad – things are so very clear to us that we just assume that everyone else knows all the details too – Perhaps, by the next three or four letters all your questions will be answered.  Will write again soon.  Love, Marian”

My Mom had the habit when writing letters, to write the day of the week rather than the date.  On Friday she wrote her first letter to Grandpa, five pages.

On Monday, Nov. 1, 1943 she wrote another four pager to Grandpa.  Lad added four more pages which included this quote from the last page:

“I am (we’re) sorry you will not be present, but Dan Cupid didn’t take you into consideration I guess, when he took aim and drove his arrows so deeply through our hearts.”

   Alfred Peabody Guion and Marian Dunlap Irwin Guion,                                        Nov. 14, 1943

 

    Lad Guion and Vern Eddington, his Best Man

 

        Marian Guion and her sister, Peg Irwin

 

A table at the Reception in Marian’s parent’s home

On Nov. 18, Lad writes the following to Grandpa:

“This won’t be much of a letter because I’m not in much of a letter-writing mood — but I’ll try to give you a little something about which you are most anxious to hear. “

He follows with a chronological description starting the Friday before about everything that happened before, during and after the wedding.  He ends with these words:

“Marian wore a dark green suit that I think was the most perfect creation I have ever seen on any woman.  She really looked wonderful.  I’m really awfully sorry you weren’t here, but I’m glad I didn’t decide to wait until after the war. M. is going to write in a couple of days….”

At this point Marian takes up the weekly responsibility of writing letters to Grandpa, letting him and the “Home Guard” know everything that is going on in their lives.

Next Sunday’s post will be about Lad’s and Marian’s various locations up until the end of the war. Tomorrow and for the next week, I’ll be posting letters written in September of 1943. These letters will include more details of Lad and Marian’s plans for their lives together and the wedding, along with comments from Grandpa about their plans Judy Guion.

Voyage to California (37) – John Jackson Lewis – January to March, 1851

(1) John Jackson Lewis, (2) Edith May (Lewis) Rider, (3) Marian Faith (Rider) Irwin, (4) Marian Dunlap (Irwin) Guion, (5) Judith Anne Guion.

The following are transcriptions of John Jackson Lewis’s diary and journal of his voyage to California in 1851. He was travelling  from New York to visit his older brother William in San Jose.

Excerpt from a letter written by John Jackson Lewis to family back in the states written on March 12th.

The next morning, after unloading the lumber, we  proceeded about a mile and a half up the stream to the place where goods destined for Santa Clara and San Jose are landed, and there I disembarked.  San Jose is called eight miles from Alviso  and three from Santa Clara, Santa Clara six miles from Alviso..  I did not succeed in finding a conveyance direct to this place, but a waggoner who had just arrived with a load of quicksilver, told me that he was going back to Santa Clara immediately, and that communications were quite frequent between there and the Pueblo.  I took with him at $2.00 for myself and trunks,, and in a very reasonable space of time, we set down to Santa Clara.  Here again conveyance for the transportation of baggage were wanting, but as I had not much further to go, I concluded to leave my trunks, walk over to the Pueblo, and trust to finding a conveyance there, with which to return and get them.  While talking about it, a man who is about started the hotel at Santa Clara told me that it was not likely I could get a card to perform the journey both ways for less than $5.00, that he had a table and two benches at San Jose, and that if I could get a team to bring them over and return with my trunks, he would be willing to pay $2.50.  I arrived at this place about 1 or 2 o’clock, went directly to Williams office (John Jackson Lewis’s brother), found no one in, but soon met him in the street.  He looks more robust and healthy than I remember ever seeing him before, and about as civilized as when at home, shaves as much of his face as he did there, and wears quite respectable clothing.  William’s horse was let to Captain Winslow, and was absent, but after waiting until about 3 o’clock on March 11th, I succeeded in getting started for Santa Clara, with his horse of the Captain’s mule geared to a two-horse wagon, and the table and benches loaded in.  I received $2.50 from the tavern keeper, thus reducing my expenses from San Francisco to $3.50, – obtained by trunks, returned in safety, and now I have the satisfaction of stating that I have arrived here, so far as I know, in good health, and without losing any of my goods or chattels, even of the value of a tooth-pick.  I have also something over $30.00 of my money still in my pocket.  This valley is indeed beautiful.  The winter has been exceedingly dry, so that the growth is not so luxuriant as usual at this season of the year, but the plains are covered with green herbage, sufficiently high to afford good pasturage.  In some places considerable tracts are yellow with buttercups.  The valley is beautifully level and smooth, dotted places with groves of live oak or willow, while the mountains on either side, covered in some places with redwood, and others with live oak or large fields of wild oats, prevent the eye from becoming wearied with the monotony of a level surface.  William and Sherman Day are in partnership in farming as well as surveying.  They own two farms, one of 200, the other of 100 acres, but in consequence of the dry weather, are farming only the latter it is situated near the Coyota Creek, about 2 miles from town, and is a very pretty and evidently fertile piece of land.  It’s situation does not admit of irrigation from the creek, but water could be found a short distance below the surface, and they propose to dig wells and raise water by means of pumps, worked by windmills.  This I suppose will be practicable, unless the water fails in the summer.  There is a new frame house on the farm, 60 x 22 ft., one story, with a loft above, and a well of water with a small iron pump in front of it.  There is a good deal of fencing done, and several acres of ground ploughed, some of which is planted with potatoes, turnips, radishes and onions.  The radishes and turnips are showing themselves above the surface.  A considerable number of pear trees, and several hundred grapevines, are also in the ground.  They had two men and a boy hired to work for them and live in the house. Wm. and Sherman live in town, rent an office, and and take their meals at a restaurant run by a man from Buenos Ayres.  I have eaten there several times, and fared sumptuously.  I suppose my home will be at the farm but I am not yet established there.  I have as yet slept with Wm. at the office, and generally taken my meals at the restaurant, sometimes at the ranche.  Of our fare at the ranche my experience is too limited to permit me to say much, so I leave that for the future.  I think we could get along with tolerable comfort.

Tomorrow, I will post more about Lad and Marian’s early married life during World War II.

Next weeks posts were not planned this way, but I will post more about the developing relationship between Lad and Marian, which results in their marriage in November.

Judy Guion

My Ancestors (33d) – Alfred Peabody Guion – Camp Santa Anita and Marian Irwin – 1943

(1) Alfred Peabody Guion; (2) Judith Anne Guion.

      Alfred Peabody Guion (Lad)

My Dad, Alfred Peabody Guion, was inducted into the Army in May, 1942.  He was sent to Aberdeen, Maryland, for 13 weeks of basic training, then 8 weeks of N.C.O. School, 3 more weeks of Teacher Training  and 11 weeks of training for  Diesel Engine Instructor, Ordinance School.

He was then sent to Flint, Michigan, for 3 weeks of training on the maintenance of G. M.  2-cycle Diesel Engine Model 2071 at the Wolverine plant.

Now that he had been thoroughly trained, he was sent to Santa Anita, California, which was still being prepared for Army use.

Excerpt from a letter home,  January 9, 1943, from Camp Santa Anita:

“The camp here – contrary to what its name implies – is far from comfortable.  No sheets or pillowcases, no heat (yes, we need heat), no hot water and no organization as yet.  It is still very much in the process of being renovated (after the Japs) and built.  In a couple of months it will, in all probability, be much better.”

At this point he was reunited with three other men who had gone through the same training in Aberdeen. The four, (Al (Alfred or Lad to family), Art Lind, Vic _____ and Vince _____, worked and socialized together.

He spent 7 months there as an instructor of Diesel Engine Theory and 4 months as an Instructor of Automotive Electricity and Engine Tune-up. During this span of time, he met Marian Irwin at the Hospitality Center in South Pasadena. She was the Executive Director of the South Pasadena Camp Fire Girls.

Excerpt from a letter home, April 8, 1942, from the Hospitality Center of South Pasadena:

“Again too many days have gone by, but they have all been full.  Even April 3rd, (Lad’s birthday). I got a letter from you on the eventful day – thanks.  It went by as usual, but the bunch of us were invited to a party in my honor at the home of one of the girls I have met here.  In fact, she is so much like Babe (Lad’s girlfriend in Trumbull) that I have difficulty now and then in calling her Marian.  She is not quite as pretty as Babe but resembles her in almost every other way.  Even to occupations.  Well, anyhow, the party went off fine and about 2 a.m. on Sunday we decided to go to a swing-shift dance at the Casa Manana and had a good time.  Got in camp at 6 Sun. morning.”

                    Lad and Marian, So. Pasadena, CA

Lad and Marian continued to spend quite a bit of time with each other.  In September, Lad returned to Trumbull on a furlough, then returned to Camp Santa Anita.

Excerpt from letter dated September 22, 1943 written from South Pasadena:

“Arrived in L.A. at 4:10 A.M. and, so help me, Marian was there to meet me.  In fact I’m writing this at her house and this is her pen and ink.”

Excerpt from letter written at the end of September, 1943, from the Hospitality Center of South Pasadena:

                              Lad Guion and Marian Irwin – 1943

“Dear Dad:- Since I arrived things have progressed rapidly.  I have had a complete reversal of more or less personal ideas, and Marian has consented to be my wife.  I never thought I was capable of such strong emotions, but they are certainly present.  When I have had a chance to calm down and think more clearly, I’ll right again and give you more in detail.  Lots of love, Lad    P.S. I personally think that she can top Jean without a great deal of trouble —”

 

Next Sunday I will continue Lad and Marian’s story with their wedding and numerous Army re-locations before Lad shipped out for France.

Tomorrow, I’ll begin with five more sections of the Beginning – Reminiscences of Alfred D Guion.

Judy Guion